You screwed up Sgt. Bales. You killed people who didn't need killing.
The really terrible part about war is that a lot of people who shouldn't die do. They have cutesy little names for these unintended deaths which are blamed on things like friendly fire or collateral damage. For a country that is terribly offended at the possibility that an innocent person on death row might be executed, we certainly seem ok tolerating hundred and thousands of innocent deaths with every new "conflict" we engage in.
Maybe we just don't mind killing as long as it's not us getting killed.
You might even get the idea that Americans like war and killing. We seem to do a lot of it. It's hard to imagine a country that does as much killing as we do- claiming that we don't really like war and killing. Clearly the facts don't support that assertion. Maybe we enjoy the martyr role. The ability to say it's our job to police the world. I don't know for sure.
I won't go into the history of people with guns acting brutally and savagely except to say that it has been going on forever. Etched into the recesses of my mind is that picture of a Vietnamese boy getting his brains blown out. How's that for due process?
I remember Wounded Knee. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_Massacre The great American massacre and attempted cover-up. Unarmed women, children, and old men slaughtered and left frozen. They called it an uprising or a conflict. The massacre probably started when soldiers tried to seize a rifle from a deaf Indian who did not speak English. Go to Pine Bluff Reservation sometime and get the Indian version of those events. It is my opinion that most if not all of the deaths and injuries to our infantry at Wounded Knee occurred because of gatling type guns called Hotchkiss guns which were fired at close quarters and indiscriminately. Friendly fire. Unfortunately, who killed who- determined in some forensic and scientific fashion is lost to us forever. It is probably just as well. We tend to lie and cover up inconvenient truths as evidenced by the death of Pat Tillman. When we do something really bad, it seems our first instinct- the one we can never wrestle into submission- is that we lie. I think that's good. At least we are not completely socio-pathic and still possess some sense of guilt and shame.
So the latest war tragedy du jour is that of Staff Sergeant Bales. Sgt. Bales it seems, in some combination of mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder and drinking, thought it might be a good idea to go kill about 16 unarmed Afghan women and children and then light them on fire. I have noticed that lighting the bodies on fire has been escaping most media accounts of the incident. Minimizing. Remember those inconvenient truths? http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/0318/Sgt.-Robert-Bales-Defense-team-begins-building-case-on-PTSD
I must have read 20 different news stories this week about the incident. The ones that inflamed me the most were the ones where the media saw fit to publish Bales' family address with pictures of his home. Was that really necessary?
The Afghans are demanding justice in the form of Bales' execution. I doubt they are going to get that. Already I see opinion and the media doing what we do best. Shaping, minimizing, justifying- protecting our own. We have been doing this long before Wounded Knee. And most certainly we do it in a hotly contested political year.
The problem with guys like Bales is that they have to stick to killing the people that our government deems fit for killing. You can't just go off half drunk and murder part of a village and then try to burn the bodies. That kind of thing is hard to defend. But this is 2012 and an election year.
If history is any indication, I have the utmost confidence that somehow Sgt. Bale's fate won't be determined until sometime after November of this year. They are going to have a real hard time cleaning up this mess. But they will. They always do.